The Goals of the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science

The Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science shall be organized to create a state-wide affiliation of interested science students, and shall have the following objectives:
• To promote greater participation in science activities among the youth of Pennsylvania.
• To provide opportunities for the development of students as thinking people.
• To improve the quality of achievement in the sciences through encouraging students to participate in scientific research and to develop original ideas.
• To foster an understanding of the operation of the scientific community through close association with leaders in the scientific disciplines.
• To encourage the development of scientific attitudes and humanistic ideals.

Scientific Categories for Research
• Behavioral Psychology (BEH): The systematic investigation of mental phenomena of human and other animals, specially those associated with consciousness, behavior and the problems of adjustment to the environment. This includes, but is not limited to, projects involving psychology, learning perception, perception problems, and educational testing. Note: Proper certification must be filed and approved before a project in this category may begin.
• Biology (BIO): This category is for the life science projects which do not fall into any other category. This includes, but is not limited to, projects involving human medicine and dentistry. Note: Proper certification may be required and approved before projects in this category may begin.
• Biochemistry (BC): The study of chemistry within living organisms with emphasis of the process. This includes, but is not limited to, projects involving blood chemistry, protein chemistry, and plant genetics. Note: Proper certification may be required and approved before projects in this category may begin.
• Botany (BOT): The study of plants. This includes, but is not limited to, projects involving plant physiology, plant anatomy, plant pathology, and plant genetics.
• Chemistry (CHM): The study of the composition of matter and how it can change. This includes, but is not limited to, projects involving physical chemistry, organic chemistry (other than biochemistry), inorganic chemistry, and chemical engineering.
• Computer Science (CPS): The development of computer programs, algorithms, computer languages, and hardware. If the project deals with the use of computers as a tool to obtain, analyze, or present data, the project should be placed in to category of its major thrust.
• Earth and Space (ES): The study of the earth and extraterrestrial bodies and the processes affecting them. This includes, but is not limited to projects involving geology, oceanography, meteorology and astronomy.
• Ecology (ECO): The study of the interactions and relationships of living things to their abiotic environment and to each other. This includes, but is not limited to projects involving pollution, environmental alterations and ecosystem analysis. Note: Proper certification may be required and approved before projects in this category may begin.
• Mathematics (MAT): The study of numbers both pure and applied. This includes, but is not limited to projects involving algebra, calculus, geometry, statistics, topology, operations research, and number theory.
• Physics (PHY): The study of matter and motion. This includes, but is not limited to projects involving the traditional subsets of physics (i.e. statics, dynamics, optics, acoustics, heat and electricity) and applied physics (i.e. mechanical , electrical, and civil engineering).
• Zoology (ZOO): The study of animals. This includes, but is not limited to projects involving animal physiology, animal anatomy, animal pathology, and animal genetics. Note: Proper certification must be filed and approved before a project in this category may begin.

SCIENTIFIC THOUGHT - Selection and statement of problems; experimental validity and value;
Scope of design. Any science research project has a basic support idea. This idea permits formulation of a meaningful question, the answer to which is not immediately obvious but which may be found through a suitably designed experiment. Thus the ultimate aim of such research is to promote our knowledge and understanding of the world in which we live.

Judging the “scientific thought” involves consideration of such questions as:
1. Is there significant basic thought in the project? Is it clearly stated?
2. Does it admit formulation of a meaningful question?
3. Is the scope of the problem sufficiently limited to permit a meaningful experiment?

EXPERIMENTAL METHODS - Techniques of analysis and use of original material or using materials in an original way. Proper controls and sample size.

We uncover the “secrets” of nature, scientifically, through a well-designed experiment. It requires an analysis of the problem. It may require
designing, building, and using material hardware. Sometimes book research may replace a part of the experiment.

1. Is the experiment procedure basically sound, and is it well-designed for the problem at hand.
2. Has it been properly used to obtain the desired information or data.
3. Have any original or ingenious materials or methods been used in the experiment?


ANALYTICAL APPROACH - Ability to draw valid conclusions. Full use of data and findings.
Interpretations of weakness of design. Suggestions for further research. An experimental research project is of little value unless it
yields answers to the problem, postulated by the “basic thought.”

1. Are the data, obtained by the experiment, fully used to draw
conclusions?
2. Are the conclusions valid?
3. Is there an evaluation of the validity of the results, and possible
specific suggestions for further research.

PRESENTATION - Ability to convey the information gained to others and to demonstrate new
and improved ways of expressing or communicating scientific ideas.

The ability of conveying scientific information to a group of people is evaluated under this heading.
The presentation should, preferably, be in the form of a free talk, rather than reading.

1. Is the talk well-organized, and does it cover the basic points, the idea, the experimental
method, the data and the conclusions?

2. Does the student exhibit a firm understanding of any of the basic scientific principles
involved?

JUDGES OPINION - Consider the age level and project correlation, and the overall feeling of the
problem and the students work. This covers simply the overall reaction to the
project - - its handling by the student, and the student himself/herself.

MATHEMATICS & COMPUTER SCIENCE PROJECTS


Mathematics and Computer Science projects are in general expository, not experimental. They will
be judged according to the following criteria:

I. FULFILLMENT of PURPOSE
a. Is the objective or purpose of the presentation clearly stated?
b. Is the problem clearly and precisely formulated and substantiated with the pertinent background
material?

c. Is there acquisition of knowledge beyond the existing curriculum of that student or is there
novelty in the approach?

II. CONTENT
a. Does the student show depth of mathematical thought and mastery of the topic?
b. Does the student show mastery of mathematical language and the techniques employed?
c. Is there any correlation with other disciplines?

III. DEVELOPMENT
a. Is there a unity, coherence and flow of ideas?
b. Does the student show sufficient examples or counter-examples?
c. Is there economy of expression?

IV. PRESENTATION
a. Does the student present a well-organized talk?
b. Is the student able to interest the audience with well-thought out and use of graphics and
language?
c. Is the quality of exposition of a high degree?
d. The student must present a flow-chart of their program. NO PART of the program MAY BE
SHARED with the judges prior to or during their presentation.

JUDGES OPINION - The subjective evaluation of work considering age level, depth, and
complexity of subject matter, significance of project and the student’s
success in achieving his/her purpose or objective will be utilized.

 

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